Hello again, this is Processing Archivist Kathleen Carter with more information on progress of the Alofsin archive.
As the processing of this collection comes to a close (things are nearly complete!) I’ve been at work on two standout areas of the collection: Anthony Alofsin’s student work from his years studying architecture at Harvard University and Columbia University and his professional work as an architect. In step with materials I’ve already processed, both contain a wealth of information and a large number of stunning visual materials. These are also the areas of the collection that contain the largest number of drawings by Alofsin, which currently fill a flat file cabinet.
Alofsin attended the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) from 1978-1981 and began researching the history of the GSD and design pedagogy there (which eventually led to his book on the history of the GSD, The Struggle for Modernism, published in 2002). The archive includes his course notes and design work, including architectural sketches and drawings and a model built as one of his first projects for the school. The Alofsin archive also includes notes and work created during his time at the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University, where he received Master of Philosophy and Ph.D. degrees. It was there that Alofsin began his research on Frank Lloyd Wright, and his doctoral dissertation was on Wright’s connections to Europe.
After completing his education and in addition to his teaching position with the School of Architecture at The University of Texas at Austin, Alofsin worked professionally as an architect. He designed his own residences, including a house and condominium in Austin, Texas, in addition to building homes for clients. This year he was named a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA), the highest membership honor reserved for architects who have made substantial contributions to the field.
Architectural plans as well as reports and documentation from every stage of the design process are included in the Alofsin archive. As with previous materials, I have carefully rehoused and inventoried all of the materials regarding Alofsin’s professional work. Both his student work and his professional work are organized and have been described in the finding aid of the collection to be available to researchers.
With these parts of the archive rehoused and inventoried, the project is getting close to completion! Remaining are some of Alofsin’s personal correspondence and administrative documents from his work as professor with the School of Architecture.
For the past couple of weeks, I have been contemplating the transmission of ideas as it relates to architecture. While browsing Special Collections, I found several books on fireplaces – two catalogs, one a history, and the last a reprint of an eighteenth-century pattern book – that provide another opportunity to think a bit further about ideas on the move.
The writer of the catalog proclaims the importance of the fireplace to any American home:
For ages at the twilight hour humans have drawn together at the firelight’s cheerful glow. In habitations throughout the centuries, the fireplace has received special attention, and some of the loveliest art of all ages has been lavished upon it.
Today, thanks to modern methods of production, the best of classic mantel designs from various periods are available to every home. For the bungalow or palace, there is an appropriate mantel in cast stone whose lines will focus the very spirit of the home into a glowing shrine about which the family may gather. (pg. 19)
Each page is dedicated to a single fireplace with a black and white photograph, measurements, molding profile, and an identified style. The styles include Louis XIV, XV, and XVI, Adam, Colonial, Tudor, Georgian, Italian, and several variations on the theme of Renaissance. The intended audience of the catalog is builders and architects. The writer notes “They [fireplaces] help close sales.” (pg. 1)
The second catalog comes from a British company in which a new type of stove can be placed into an existing fireplace. Accordingly:
The “HUE” has been placed before the public as an Easy, Inexpensive and Efficient method of converting the old-fashioned, coal-wasting type of grate into a modern barless stove, possessing all the advantages of the very latest improvements in open grates without the necessity of pulling down mantelpieces and removing existing stoves. (pg. 2)
The models are assigned one or two to a page, accompanied by measurements, a rendering – some reproduced in color – materials and finish. Unlike the catalog from the Architectural Decorating Company, the target audience appears to be the general public. Some of the illustrations, for example, create atmosphere and context so that the customer would not have to imagine how the fireplace might look in their homes. The cover includes an illustration of the “glowing shrine” as described in the previous catalog. Furthermore, Young & Martin, Ltd. refrain from architectural styles, preferring to bestow names onto their fireplaces like “Hampton” or “Windsor.”
Our copy is well worn. A previous owner sketched a ruler onto the rendering of the “Henley.”
Guy Cadogan Rothery provides a brief history of the fireplace from the medieval period to the nineteenth century, followed by an extensive photo essay and accompanied with some architectural drawings of fireplaces. Our copy of English Chimney-Pieces belonged to J. A. Sherman of Ipswich with an associated date of August 1928. After a bit of research, I was not able to positively identify Sherman as an architect. A previous owner of the book, whether Sherman or otherwise, taped a drawing of a fireplace into the front end papers of the work.
Of the four books, the reprint issued by the Boston Architectural Club of B. Langley’s architectural drawings for various decorative elements – including fireplaces – is my favorite. Our copy is part of the Paul Cret collection. While the work is a facsimile of an eighteenth-century work, it also includes extensive advertisements often associated with a trade publications. I find the juxtaposition of these two elements speaks to both historical practice and need.
This week I ended up in a section on Bungalows. I thought we might explore the diversity of examples and definitions provided by the various publications. Starting with the definition provided by the Penguin, which defines bungalows thusly:
A detached, single-storey house in its own plot of land. The term first occurs in 1784 as an anglicization of the Hindu word ‘bangla‘ and was given to lightly constructed dwellings with verandas erected for English officials in mid-C19 Indian cantonments and hill stations. Later the term was used for similarly light, simply dwellings built as second homes in England and America. (pg. 77)
Percival T. Harrison has a rather lengthy definition of bungalow. He too traces its origin back to India and like the Penguin’s definition allows for diversity. Harrison does, however, narrow the field at least in terms of the types of bungalows he intends to present:
No one would entertain for a moment the idea of erecting rows or even pairs of bungalows, because by so doing their principal charm, as well as their distinctive character, would be destroyed.
Bungalows costitute a distinct type of residence in themselves: they are erected for the most part at the seaside, or in the country in positions chosen for the quality of the air, or for the recreative facilities or other attractions, and it is an added pleasure if the site commands views of white cliff and restless sea, of verdure-clad hills or winding river, where, for a time at least, the rattle of the motor ‘bus may be forgotten, together with the many other obtrusive indications of the triumph of machinery, indispensable as such may be in these days of rush and hurry. (pg. 2-3)
Henry L. Wilson provides a brief introduction to bungalows. He writes:
The Bungalow is a radical departure from the older styles of cottage, not only in outward appearance, but in inside arrangement. The straight, cold entrance hall and stiff, prim, usually darkened parlor have no place in it. Entrance is usually into a large living room- the room where the family gathers, and in which the visitor feels at once the warm, homelike hospitality. Everything in this room should suggest comfort and restfulness. The open fireplace and low, broad mantel, a cozy nook or corner, or a broad window seat, are all means to the desired end. Bookcases or shelves may be fitted into convenient places, and ceiling beams add an air of homely quaintness which never grows tiresome. (pg. 4)
The rest of the book is a catalog from which to purchase plans for your very own bungalow.
Writing for an American audience, Henry H. Saylor attempts to define the characteristics of the bungalow in this country. Saylor argues that a bungalow must have a piazza and “at least one big fireplace in the living-room.” (pg. 11, 16-17) He argues further:
From the outside it is almost impossible to tell whether the building is a bungalow with dormers ventilating the upper part of its living-room or its attic, or whether it is a house. The final test, however, is in plan. Where the main sleeping-rooms are included on the first floor with the living-room, dining room and service quarters, the building is a bungalow. Where the sleeping-quarters are for the most part on the second floor, the building is a house instead. (pg. 45)
He identifies ten types of bungalows found in the U.S., to include: the Pasadena & Los Angeles type, the patio bungalow of Southern California, the Swiss Châlet, the Adirondack, the seacoast bungalow, and the Chicago type.
Randall R. Phillips acknowledges as well that bungalows come in many forms and serve many purposes; however, he ties his examples to class:
The plan of the bungalow will necessarily vary a good deal, according to the particular site on which it is proposed to be built, the use to which it is to be put, and the number of occupants…. Similarly, as the precise definition of the word “bungalow” as a one-storey house would include both the country cottager’s dwelling and the lodge keeper’s house, we should here have quite another arrangement of plan. But my interpretation of the bungalow in this book is expressly limited to the needs of one class- that middle class upon whose shoulders every new burden is thrust. (pg. 9)
No precise definition is provided for bungalows. Rather, the introduction provides advice about building a properly designed weekend home, whether cottage, house or bungalow. Hugh Casson writes:
The book is intended for those who could not endure the murk and confinement of a mediæval cot, even if they could find one going cheaply, and for those who prefer a home simply and directly planned to fit in with the informal life of a week-end party. For them, the only solution is to build, and they will find the excitement well worth the inevitable trouble and delay. (pg. 8)
The rest of the book is arranged by type: houses & cottages, foreign examples, and bungalows. The examples, included by the editor, are recent constructions, designed by architects. The example below is classified as a bungalow.
Like Henry L. Wilson’s book, this publication is also a catalog of plans for bungalows that was distributed by Amos D. Bridge’s Sons of Hazardville, Conn. The company sold lumber, building supplies, and agricultural implements. This catalog was actually the one that inspired me to write the post. The houses remind me very much of my grandparents’ house in the midwest, which I would never have classified as a bungalow. In fact “The Crosby” is nearly the exact plan of their house.
Are some of these examples more successful as bungalows than others, or align more closely to your idea of a bungalow? What do you think and why?
Fleming, John, Hugh Honour, and Nikolaus Pevsner. The Penguin Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. 5th edition. London: Penguin, 1999.
Since I have not been able to post the last two Fridays, I am over sharing today! There is no theme that connects my selections- just things that struck my fancy. As I have noted before, I rely on serendipity – I browse but rarely with a focused intention. I think it unlikely that I would have found these works starting with the catalog.
I was rather struck by graphic print on the cover. Berlepsch-Valendas documented the domestic architecture of Bournville and Port Sunlight, England near Birmingham and Liverpool, respectively. The text is written in German, so my ability to engage with it is limited. He includes photographs and plans of the towns. The second half of the work is the real treat. There are twenty plates with drawings documenting the architecture Berslepsch-Valendas encountered. The attention to detail is quite lovely.
Again the cover caught my eye. I rather liked the graphic representations of the gardens, both on the cover and the plates within, and endpapers.
Rose Haig Thomas writes:
A FLAT stone garden costs not a little trouble and, if far from stone quarries, not a little money to make. But the reward is great, for it is a means of growing many tiny plants that would be hidden in the herbaceous border, and lost in a rock garden. In the stone garden each plant grows by itself, and thus its ways and habit of growth can be so much better observed, for there one may wander and enjoy the companionship of plants at those seasons of the year when in our damp climate the lawn is objectionable with the mists and heavy dews of autumn and winter. (pg. 7)
Again the text is written in German; however, the documentation of the hotels and the natural landscape is quite useful. Prokop included drawings- sections, elevations, plans, details, and perspectives- and photographs, both of the structures and the dramatic views of the mountains. The work would be quite useful for those interested in nineteenth-century hotels. Many of the hotels are of the rustic lodge variety; however, some are more classically inspired.
Someone carefully collected the press releases and reviews of the publication and pasted them into this book. He hand wrote page numbers and a table of contents and marked in pencil sections of the reviews, which primarily date from 1908-1912. In an inside pocket, the collector stashed a few other related items, including a handmade mock-up of the title page. There is no record of the creator of the scrapbook.
Curious about the publication itself, I found a two volume set published in 1911. Our copy came to us with the Ayres and Ayres archive. On the inside cover, a couple of quick sketches were drawn, which is always a favorite find.
The connection I discovered between these two finds was actually quite accidental. I will admit I was attracted to the title of Joseph Nash’s book, specifically In The Olden Time. I checked the publication year and thought I would look for books on similar topics from roughly the same date both to compare them and to think about the influence these types of work might have had on practicing architects. I thus selected Charles Latham’s book. I was not familiar with either author or work.
Exploring Nash’s book a little more carefully, I discovered the Special Collections’s copy was actually a later edition of the work published more than 50 years prior. I was a bit disappointed that the books were not in fact contemporary. I also discovered that The Mansions according to both the introduction in the new edition and Peter Mandler’s biography of Joseph Nash had been quite influential. Mandler writes:
The Mansions’ combination of architectural and antiquarian accuracy with contemporary values was devastatingly effective. Nash’s plates were immediately engraved for mass circulation….They served as a source book for architects but also as advertising placards for tourist sites around the country that became more accessible as the railway network developed. (Mandler, “Nash Joseph (1809-1878)”)
In his introduction, Charles Latham recognizes the importance of Nash’s work and acknowledge’s that his own book is in direct response to his predecessor. He writes:
It was thus that Nash’s “Mansions of England in the Olden Time” was enthusiastically received, and is still prized as a pictorial interpretation of the home life of old Englishmen. There is infinite pleasure in looking again and again at its representations, and we pardon their faults and exaggerations for the sake of the artist’s enthusiasm, which has given them undeniable fascination. In the years that have passed many things have become possible which then were not dreamt of. Not only is there riper and better knowledge, but photography, though much abused, has come as the handmaid of those who understand best what are the beauties and the splendors of old English domestic interiors. The time had, therefore, arrived for the publication of this work, which the writer ventures to think presents the subject in a manner never before approached, and perhaps unapproachable, because the opportunities have been of the best and fullest, and no labour of love, no effort of heart or hand, has been spared to bring the interiors of the houses of our sires verily before the eyes of their descendants. (Latham, vol. 1, x)
While both Nash and Latham present many of the same houses, they do so quite differently. According to Charles Holme, the editor of the new edition of The Mansions, there are two significant differences between the original edition and the new. The first is that all the plates have been collected into a single volume. The second change is that the editor has reordered the plates. He writes, “In the original edition,…the plates were distributed in a haphazard fashion throughout the work. The Editor believes that the present arrangement will be found to be of more practical utility to the reader.” Holmes arranged Nash’s drawings so that those representing the same building were placed together. (Prefatory Note)
While C. Harrison Townsend does provide a brief introduction about Nash’s style & approach and the development of Tudor domestic architecture, Nash’s plates are not accompanied with any descriptions. Mandler explains Nash’s approach to the houses: “He confined himself strictly to reproducing architectural details, exterior and interior, but enlivened them romantically with scenes of Tudor domestic life…” (Mandler, “Nash, Joseph (1809-1878).”)
In Latham’s book, however, the reader is presented with black and white photographs that document the architecture and furniture of the houses. The photographs seem almost scientific compared to Nash’s imagined realities of life in a Tudor house. Latham’s photographs, however, do not stand alone. Latham writes, “Thus, in these many pictures, accompanied by historical descriptions, do we find a visible memorial of the life and character of English Society.” (Latham, xxxii) At times, Latham’s writing seems in stark contrast to the photographs. For example, he writes of Haddon Hall:
What memories of old-time glories, ambitions, and occupations, of passions long stilled, and yet of emotions that are ours, are evoked as we walk in the gold shade of the sycamores and limes, or linger on the terrace under the low-hanging boughs of the yews, or traverse that wondrous range of buildings, and sojourn in this ancient chambers, out of whose windows looked lovingly into their garden the men and women of long ago! There may be places more magnificent, but the transcendental delight of the home of the Vernons lies in its happy union of history and poetry with rare beauty of architecture, richness of internal adornment, and the external charms of an old garden, and a beautiful neighbouring land. Where else can we receive such impressions of ancient greatness touched with the witchery of bygone romance? (Latham, vol. 1, 37)
I am curious, readers, if you prefer one representation to the other and why.
Mandler, Peter. “Nash, Joseph (1809-1878).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2007. Accessed March 27, 2015. http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/19787. Joseph Nash (1809-18780: doi: 10.1093/ref:odnb/19787.
At the turn of the twentieth century, Charles Holme issued a call for a new architecture for the homes of Britain. He collected a series of essays on architecture, furniture, metal-work, stained glass, and decoration & embroidery. The treatise is highly illustrated with works by the Mackintoshes, the McNairs, and M. H. Baillie Scott- leaders in the Scottish Arts & Crafts Movement- among other architects and designers.
Edward S. Prior (1855-1932), architect & writer, wrote the essay on domestic architecture, “Upon House-Building in the Twentieth Century,” for the publication, which was influenced by theories of the Arts & Crafts Movement. Like Holme, he issued a challenge to the architects of the twentieth century to abandon the adoration of the three great gods, Science, Commerce and Nature of the nineteenth century (pg. 10). He argues that through Science and Archaeology, architects reproduced the works of the past, latching onto various styles. Prior suggests: A better understanding of his worth [Science] to us would cause him to be appreciated as the science of construction, not as the knowledge of other people’s ornament (10-11). Commerce too had a detrimental effect on architecture. Houses were designed with profit as the driving force, loosing all individuality. The bottom line, Prior argues, has also affected the quality of workmanship and material. He writes: We have to take not only what does not suit us, but what is not the real thing at all- fatty compounds for butter, glucose for sugar, chemicals for beer: and just as certainly the sham house for the real building, its style a counterfeit, its construction a salable make-believe, its carved wood a pressing from machinery, its panelling linoleum, its plaster some pulp or other, its metal work a composition, its painted glass only paper- everything charmingly commercial and charmingly cheap (11-12). Finally, Prior is critical of the nineteenth century’s relationship with Nature. He proclaims: And to add insult to injury, we not only lay waste Nature’s palaces, but we talk glibly enough of taking her into our gardens, and to this end we set out puny landscapes in place of wide ones so rashly destroyed (12).
Prior hopes that the architects will reflect upon their relationship with the nineteenth century’s gods and overcome the challenges that such worship has imposed upon them. He concludes: And architects, delivered from the thralldom of design and required to provide neither orders nor styles, neither nooks nor symmetries, might be allowed the money for building with brains: that is to say, for a progressive experimental use of what science and commerce bring their hands, a controlling grasp of the new practices of construction, for the purposes not of champ construction but of good building. Thus alone may we cease to be purveyors of style. And when, at last, we shall have ceased to be artistic, perhaps we may grow, unselfconsciously, into artists (14).
Lathrop, Elsie. Historic houses of early America. New York: Tudor Pub. Co., 1941, [c1927].
When I first saw Historic Houses of Early America sitting on the library shelf I didn’t even consider it for a blog post. With such a dry, straightforward title I was expecting plans and diagrams which, although useful for architectural scholarship, don’t often equate to riveting reading. This book, however, proved to be anything but boring! Written by Elsie Lathrop in 1927, Historic Houses was popular enough to enjoy several editions, including this 1941 publication bequeathed to the library by Blake Alexander. With 464 pages and copious illustrations, Historic Houses of Early America is more than your average architectural history book. Not only does the book provide detailed descriptions of some of this country’s earliest dwellings, it contains colorful stories and amusing anecdotes which truly make the homes, and their inhabitants, come alive! So if you’d like to see history through the lens of domestic architecture or if you just want to read some good ghost (!) stories, check out Lathrop’s Historic Houses of Early America.
Roussel, Joules. Monuments Historiques de France. Ensembles d’Architectura, Détails Décoratifs, Documents, d’après les Archives du Ministère de l’Instruction Publique et des Beaux-arts. 3 Vols. Paris: A. Guérinet, [n.d.].
Assembled by the French Ministère de l’Instruction Publique et des Beaux-Arts, Monuments Historiques de France is a three volume series containing over 200 19th- and 20th-century photographs that document French monumental architecture from the Roman Empire to the 18th century. A range of building types are represented including public works, cathedrals, palaces and other domestic architecture. These volumes are organized chronologically and provide high-quality photographs capturing exterior, interior, and detailed views of some of France’s most renowned architectural spaces. A product of the neoimperialist era, a small section of photographs also documents Algerian architecture, though these plates are strangle absent from the volumes available in the Architecture & Planning Library special collection.
Library of Congress call numbers: NA 1041 R63 V. 1, V.2, V3
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